December Ami Club Newsletter

Oh, hey, lovely Ami Club member! Welcome!

You’re probably familiar with my Yarn & Craft Newsletter, where I share fun yarn stuff from all around the internet. But I thought it would be fun to have a monthly Ami Club Newsletter which focuses more on crochet and amigurumi! Oh, and cute. Look for this newsletter on the 2nd Friday of every month! And it’s only for members!

What I’m up to & news

I shipped out loads of goodies on Thanksgiving weekend, but I snagged a little goodie for myself, too! Check out this adorable pin by Mochichito! I’m in love with enamel pins, and this guy is a cutie! Don’t forget to show me your favorite enamel pin in this thread… I’m going to gift one to a lucky winner in January!

Season is the lucky winner of the Knit Picks giveaway! Yay! For the giveaways in Ami Club, all you need to do is comment on the thread… no reason not to enter!

I’m heading off to Australia tomorrow (our annual holiday visit), but I won’t be totally away. We’ve got LOTS happening!

 

I’m really excited about the Snowman CAL… you get the adorable pattern as part of your membership! And, are you joining in on our swap? Click here for details.

Great Crochet Links

More Great Links

Let me hear from you!

What are you up to? Are you loving the club? Plans for crocheting holiday presents? Come chat in the forums!

Save

Happy Holidays + travel blog post roundup!

I’ve always loved this time of year. It’s Christmas, Boxing Day, my birthday, the New Year and now Maddie’s birthday all at once!

It’s also an incredibly busy time, which makes it especially important to set aside a little time for yourself to do some crafting!

Continental knitting from FreshStitches

It’s also a time when a lot of us are traveling to see friends and family, so I thought I’d do a little round-up of blog posts that I think are super-helpful at this time of year!

What am I bringing with me for my holiday travel? Aaahh! We leave Monday and I haven’t totally decided! I’m definitely hoping to knit Maddie a Mini Manu (but I haven’t had a chance to get to the yarn shop, so I may go in Sydney) and I have some AMAZING rainbow english paper piecing planned. But I need one more relaxing knitting project…

Follow me on Instagram for up-to-the-minute updates on my crafting!

And just a little reminder that since it’s the holidays, I’ll be replying to emails a tad slower than usual. The site will also be down at the start of the New Year for maintenance. It’s going to be bigger and better!

Don't be THIS kind of gift-giver…

A chat about gift-giving

The holidays are super-busy and stressful. All that shopping! All that traveling!

And a lot of us crafters feel the added pressure of making handmade gifts for those that we love.

I know this is going to be a controversial post… but I’m going to encourage you to think twice before making handmade gifts for friends and family. Think about whether the person will actually want and appreciate the gift. Otherwise, you’re spending a lot of your time on a gift that just doesn’t work… trust me, I’ve been there!

A Story

My mom is over-the-moon excited that she’s going to have a granddaughter. Seriously. I think if she won a million dollar lottery, she’d be only 10% as excited as she is right now.

And she’s a keen shopper and bargain hunter. The trouble is that she’s purchased a number of items that are either just plain impractical for our tiny home. (for example, we don’t have space in our living room for a stand-alone bassinet… it’s already a room that doubles as my office and shipping room!)

I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but I’m going to tell you a truth about gift-giving: the best gift is one that the recipient actually wants or needs.

Picture1

Otherwise, your gift becomes a burden for the recipient to manage instead of the bundle of joy you intended it to be.

You see, we often give gifts that we want to give instead of giving gifts that others want to receive. Keep reading… and I’ll tell you why this insight has saved me oodles of time this holiday season!

Let’s get honest about handmade gifts

A few years ago, I used to make handmade gifts for everyone on my list. Knitted hats, sewn stuffed animals, you name it. I spent weeks making gifts for everyone on my list.

I often made presents that I secretly wanted for myself, but I poured all of my energy into making them for other people.

sewn leopard puppet by Abby Glassenberg

And then I learned that not everyone wants a handmade present. (You’ll want to read this blog post about the lesson I learned!)

I was so hurt! How dare they not appreciate the valuable gift I was lovingly making!

But then I realized… I was actually being selfish by foisting my desires onto them! I love making presents, and it was what I thought showed the most love. But in reality, I was ignoring what people actually wanted.

Now, I only make presents for a very few special people who appreciate and want a handmade gift.

What’s the lesson?

It’s good news: you don’t have to kill yourself this holiday season making gifts for everyone on your list! If someone didn’t appreciate your hand knit gift in the past, take the opportunity to reconsider. Maybe they really would rather get a gift certificate to a book store.

And take all that extra time you save and make something lovely for yourself! You deserve it!

Holiday Roundup: Free Printable Gift Tags!

Have you wrapped all of your Christmas presents yet?

In case you haven’t, I thought I’d do a little roundup of cute holiday gift tags… all free printables!
gift tag

These are in no particular order… but they’re all adorable!

I’ve listed the source for each cute collection of gift tags underneath… so, visit the maker’s site to download. (and maybe leave them a comment to thank them for creating such awesomeness!)

by Nina Seven of We Love to Illustrate

by Bee of We Love to Illustrate

by Mollie Johanson of Wild Olive

by Rebecca

by Grace at Design*Sponge

by Emily at The Black Apple

from Domestifluff

by Stacey from FreshStitches (that’s me!)

Aren’t they all so cute?

Enjoy! And happy present-wrapping!

Can we talk about the holidays?

I don’t like to complain, but last year, something happened that really hurt my feelings.

Last year for Christmas, I sewed what is possibly the cutest puppet I’d ever seen in my life:

sewn leopard puppet Abby Glassenberg

(The pattern is this one by Abby Glassenberg!)

Okay, I exaggerate. Maybe not the cutest ever… but in the top 10, right?

Anyway, I made it for my little cousin for Christmas. I was very proud. If you don’t remember, last year was the year that I had a book manuscript due the week before Christmas, the day before leaving to Australia, so accomplishing Christmas crafting during that time was a real feat!

What happened?

Nothing. I never even heard confirmation that the cousin received the present… never mind a ‘thank you’ or ‘he loves playing with the leopard!’. Ouch.

Now, I don’t mean to complain. Maybe his mom was thrilled and the email got eaten by my computer. It happens.

Christmas presents

But it wasn’t the first time I’d pushed myself to the max to make handmade gifts that weren’t received with total enthusiasm. Afghans that end up in closets. Hats that the recipient never wears.

It’s time for me to reevaluate where I allocate my pre-holiday stress.

This year…

I’m asking myself: does everyone need a handmade gift? Is the person going to appreciate it? Is it worth dedicating my precious pre-holiday hours to making?

If not, I’ll shop around my favorite Etsy shops and local stores to purchase something. It’s for my sanity.

Do you need help this year?

My buddy Tara Swiger has written a Guide to Holiday Sanity:

Guide to Holiday sanity Tara Swiger

It’s a workbook + email course designed to keep you on track during the holidays. Let go of the stress and things that aren’t really important. Schedule the stuff you need to get done.

I’m making very few gifts this year, and only if my schedule allows. And only for people who I know will love it. (My mom always loves whatever I make her! And she’s super-cute, saying, “oh, you’re too busy. Don’t make me anything, you have too much to do…”)

If you need a reality check and enthusiasm boost, then check out Tara’s Guide!

disclaimer

WIP Wednesday: holiday madness!

I’m super-busy this week… I had a book signing at Knit New Haven last night, and I’m hopping on a train in an hour or so for a signing at A Tangled Skein in Maryland tonight (if you’re in the DC-area, come by! 7-9pm!).

But busy is no excuse to not make progress on projects, so here’s what I’ve been up to:

Adorable monsters

I’m super-excited to be teaching an online course for Craftsy, to be filmed in January. It’s going to be so much fun! It also means that recently, I’ve been making progress on lots of fun critters.

What do you think? Are you in love with the color combo?

Teabag rest

This weekend, I told you about some fun new crafts I’m dipping into, including playing with a little clay. I’m making a teabag rest as a holiday present. So far, I’ve got the basic shape down:

I rolled out the clay (using small dowels on the side to get an even thickness), set the circle in a bowl to form a curve, let dry and sanded it smooth. Next step: painting and finishing! I’m excited about this one!

Felted Christmas tree

I’m also working on making a felted Christmas tree. I’m happy with the shape:

Now I just need to decorate. I’m thinking of adding beads:

Stripe Study

My 2nd Stripe Study shawl is humming along… but I don’t have any new photos to show you. I’m hoping to finish it on my train ride today!

That’s what I’ve been up to! What have you been working on this week? Hope everyone has a happy Wednesday!

If you want to check out more Work-In-Progress posts, please check out Tami’s Ami’s Blog, who’s been organizing a great WIP Wednesday blog theme! And, don’t forget to come back for FO (Finished Object) Friday!

Free printable gift tags!

The holidays are fast approaching… and what better way to top off your handmade creations than with a cute gift tag? I’ve made 4 adorable gift tags for you to print that would go perfectly on your amigurumi, or anything else handmade!

To grab these gift tags, just right-click the image above and “save as”. Then, print the tags and fill in the information (like I did at left)… and spread the holiday love!

On the back, you can jot down some information about the yarn you used and care instructions. For example, on my stuffed animals, I usually write, made with 100% wool, spot clean with cold water (because I like using wool yarn for my amigurumi). Giving this information to the recipient will ensure that they’ll take proper care of your carefully-crafted creation!

Happy holidays!